FAIRNESS AND JUSTICE
“Behind the Book”: Study shows lynching and vigilante justice are global problems
On March 7, the U.S. Congress passed the Emmett Till Antilynching Act, but vigilante justice is not only a problem in the United States—recent research documents the extent to which collective vigilantism is a contemporary global phenomenon. In their 2021 book, Lynching and Local Justice: Legitimacy and Accountability in Weak States, HKS Professor Dara Kay Cohen and Emory University Professor Danielle F. Jung used a new cross-national dataset and drew on focus groups and surveys from Haiti and South Africa, to explore the nature of collective vigilantism around the world, and to understand the views of community members where collective vigilantism is common. The authors found that collective vigilantism had been reported in over 100 countries in recent decades, including both wealthy and poor nations, and they document how perceptions of low state legitimacy are correlated with support for vigilante justice. In the newest episode of “Behind the Book,” an HKS video series, Cohen and Jung discuss their findings and the implications for policymakers around the world.